The Ethnic Chinese Foreigner

Ethnic Chinese who are born and raised outside China, but who do not speak any Chinese (and that includes any number of second-generation-on-down Chinese-Americans, Chinese-Britons, Chinese-Australians, and more) usually find themselves in an awkward position when visiting China. Simply by virtue of the fact they look Chinese, they are expected to speak the language, and those who don't are often viewed with a mix of subtle derision and exasperation. At the same time, they are not given the same benefit of the doubt as non-Chinese foreigners. While the reasons for this unfortunate phenomenon are age-old and complex, ethnic Chinese foreigners, like any foreign visitor, can go a long way in endearing themselves to locals by learning some Chinese and displaying some knowledge of Chinese culture and history. Even if you speak with a funny accent, the effort is usually appreciated. Learn the words for "We're all Chinese!" (Women doushi zhongguoren!), and you may well find yourself paying a little more than local but a little less than foreigner prices for that special scarf. Mainland Chinese also tend to look very favorably upon ethnic Chinese foreigners "returning" to the motherland to search for their roots, a process known in Mandarin as xun gen.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.